Baseball players are often characterized as grown men playing a children’s game. Sometimes that description is more apt than not, especially when it comes to how players keep things loose while grinding through a long season.
Recently, Albuquerque Isotopes catcher Ryan Casteel has been hearing his nickname, “The Hammer,” tossed around more often than not. The origin of the nickname, not to mention the Twitter parody account @TheABQhammer9, required a little explanation.
“It started when I was in High-A (Modesto in 2013),” Casteel said. “It’s how I hit, it’s kind of weird looking, it’s kind of an old school look, a lot of top hand. One of my good friends (outfielder) Tyler Massey, he nicknamed me that. And it’s kind of stuck.”
The parody Twitter account, however, was a new one for Casteel. It includes gems such as, “Not sure why pitchers keep trying to throw me outside. I got more plate coverage than a 32 oz. ribeye.”
“The guys created the fake Twitter account, which … it’s ridiculous,” Casteel said. “But it’s pretty funny, I follow it myself. It keeps it loose in the clubhouse and it gives them something else to give me a hard time about. I just kind of wear it.”
Manager Glenallen Hill said he was aware of the Twitter parody account, even though he does not use the social media service himself. Or so the manager claimed.
“It’s going to be ongoing and you guys (the media) will never figure it out,” Hill said. “Whoever the guy is, he’s really witty. I don’t read ’em, I just hear about them when they talk about ’em.”
Hill said whatever happens in the clubhouse is between the players. He avoids their shenanigans as best he can.
“I stay out of it, everything that goes on in the clubhouse is their business and I try to stay out of it,” Hill said, shaking his head. “(But) it’s hard sometimes, especially when the other day where they announced him as ‘The Hammer Casteel.’ I was fighting back smiling and engaging with the guy when he was on third base. I try to kind of let them have their fun and get through the season.”
That came during the Isotopes’ 12-5 loss to Sacramento back on May 18. Casteel did go 1-for-4 with his first home run in the game.
“I looked in the (dugout), I was so embarrassed, because I don’t like that kind of stuff, man,” Casteel said. “My teammates are laughing and I was like, ‘I better do something, because this other team is looking like what in the world is going on.’ I had a pretty good day after that.”
Casteel has had a pretty good season so far, batting .360/.371/.488 while splitting time at catcher with Dustin Garneau. Casteel credits a rather simple approach.
“Get a good pitch and don’t miss it,” he said with a laugh. “It’s pretty simple, you know? When you play three or four days a week versus every day, you’ve just got to go up there and be ready for a good pitch to hit.”
Casteel and the Isotopes will continue their series with the visiting Omaha Storm Chasers on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. He started as the designated hitter in Friday’s series opener.